This project came out of one of the more challenging prompts from my Advanced Dramatic Writing class at Portland State (just in case you already saw the video and were wondering “wtf was that all about?”):
Put no more than four characters in one of the following settings (note the theme here: small spaces): a closet, restaurant booth, bathroom, cockpit, confessional, elevator, hunting blind, cave, submarine, office cubicle, ferris wheel, tunnel, jail cell, bed, … you get the idea. The scene must additionally contain the following ingredients: A blind date, 3 days without sleep, a phobia, and a man covered in tattoos.
The odd thing is, the more limiting a prompt is, the easier it seems to be to come up with ideas for it. I suppose this is because when you’re asked to “write something,” the entire universe of ideas doesn’t come rushing in to overwhelm you and you end up staring at a blank page too small to fit anything that comes to mind.
For some reason this didn’t seem enough punishment for one project, so I added a couple of limitations of my own:
- I would try to use most, if not all of the settings given, and
- I would do so without any narration. It would all be in the dialogue.
The class really came up with some fun stories from this prompt. The best part was the collaboration: although it was the writer’s job to create the piece, we were teamed up with other students who would take on the roles of director and voice actors, so we could see and hear how the piece works for an audience. During rehearsals these collaborators helped workshop the piece from their perspective, as director, actors, as well as a volunteer dramaturge (someone who makes sure the piece holds together in its own universe).
This collaboration is key, in my book, helping you not only to craft the work so that the story in your head actually makes it to your audience, but to find amazing connections. ideas and considerations from the mouths of your own characters, as told from the people who are acting them out. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and one that makes the story far surpass its humble beginnings.
Since this was one of our main projects for the term, we got to see our scripts read on stage in front of an audience–and a video camera. As awesome as it would have been to see it acted out, there were too many scripts constantly evolving and too little time to block, act and memorize them all. But as voice actors, these performers made this silly story truly come to life.
But I’ll let you be the judge. =)
Here for your enjoyment, a stage reading of The Long Blink, wonderfully performed by Nick Nolan, Taryn Judah, Madison Shanley, and Drew Pierce. Filmed by Jerry Rous.
It is still a work in progress, of course (especially the new ending), but we had a lot of fun getting it this far. I hope you enjoyed it.
Hopefully more soon!! ^_^